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Paleo Baby: Teaching my daughter the love of real food

9/23/2014 *Sara-Marie* 2 Comments

There WERE raspberries and coconut cream in that bowl :)

Ever since I learned of the Whole30/Paleo lifestyle, I knew that I wanted to raise my future children to not only eat but love real food. A little over a year later, we welcomed our little Paleo Baby into the world and we have remained committed to only feeding her nutrient-dense foods.

We have been blessed with a great breastfeeding relationship which is still going strong at almost 11 months old. Isabelle still gets a majority of her nutrition from Mama's Milk, but since about 4.5 months old (which is early), I began to introduce wholesome, real foods into her diet.

I originally wanted to wait until 6 months before introducing solid food, as recommended by many. However, when my child started to make chewing motions with her mouth as she watched us eat and started to swipe at my dinner plate, and cry when we didn't let her have any, I knew it was time to do something. I didn't want to give her the typical baby cereals since I knew from my research that it wasn't nutritionally necessary and could often cause digestion issues. So I started out with mashed sweet potato and Isabelle responded really well. She even grabbed the baby spoon and fed herself that night - this girl was READY. If you don't believe me, check out this photo documenting her first real food experience:

"This stuff is so good!"
From 4-6 months I kept things very simple and only introduced sweet potato, avocado, and banana. I would often puree these items with breast milk to aid in digestion. I also made sure that everything she consumed was organic or locally grown/raised. 

At around 6 months, I started introducing her to more purees including butternut squash, applesauce, zucchini, and blueberries. She loved them all.

At around 7 months, I started incorporating some "babyled weaning" ideas and started giving her chunks of real food and letting her self feed. I found this to really help her motor skills and food became a fun, learning experience for everyone. Up until now, we barely spoon feed her anything. We put food on her high-chair tray and let her go to town! It gets messy, but I love watching her discover new foods. I think that most of my pictures of Isabelle are of her in her high-chair, covered in food. 
Blueberries and Watermelon

At almost 11 months old, Isabelle pretty much eats whatever we eat. I no longer spend time making "baby food" as I did in the earlier months. Whatever I am eating, which typically follows a paleo template, is what Isabelle gets to eat as well. Some of her favorites include:
  • Avocado - her absolute favorite
  • Olives
  • Coconut milk, cream, butter
  • Raspberries 
  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Ground beef
  • Shredded chicken/turkey 
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Sweet potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Plantains
  • Banana
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli 
  • Spinach (in the form of a green smoothie)
To this day, Isabelle has not met a food she does not like! Sometimes she'll make a funny face if her raspberries or blueberries are too tart - but she'll still eat them.
I love avocado!

With all that being said, here is a list of food groups we are choosing NOT to include in Isabelle's diet:

GRAINS - with the exception of an occasional serving of rice
Why? Here's a snippet from "The Grain Manifesto" found on the Whole30 website:
In a comparison* done in our New York Times bestselling book, It Starts With Food, a daily diet based on “healthy” whole grains provided more than three times the sugar and sodium as a diet featuring vegetables and fruit, but provided less fiber, potassium, and substantially less magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.
So I rather fill ALL of our plates with a variety of fruits and vegetables instead of bread, cereal, or pasta. 

Because the over consumption of sugar is just plain bad. Anything and everything that comes in a box these days has sugar, or some form of science experiment sugar, as an ingredient. Again, I don't want that in my body, let alone my daughter's little vessel.

Cow's milk is designed for baby cows. Human milk is designed for baby humans. Once Isabelle weans off of breast milk, I will most likely continue to pump and have her drink breastmilk from a cup or have her continue to drink coconut milk. So many people don't tolerate dairy well - including myself - so I just don't see the need to introduce it to her. I may one day consider a raw, organic, local source of cheese or yogurt, but for right now she's dairy free. If you're concerned about calcium, you should know that dairy is not the only good source of calcium. You can find calcium in vegetables (greens), meats, nuts, and seeds.

Why give my child fake food, when she loves real food which is much more nutritious and delicious? Will my child one day have a piece of candy? Eat a piece of cake? Of course, but they most certainly won't be common occurrences and won't even be valued as a treat.

It's so easy to get concerned about whether or not your child is getting enough nutrients, but by looking at the assortment of different fruits, vegetables, and protein Isabelle IS eating on a regular basis (versus what she isn't), I feel confident that she's getting enough of all the right stuff. Plus she's a good weight, good height, has soft and clear skin, healthy hair and nails, and is overall a very happy and healthy baby. (THANK YOU JESUS!)  
Raspberries and coconut cream - another favorite combo

I know this is also setting her up for good eating habits in the future. She does not snack all day on Gerber puffs or other sugary processed carbs, so she won't feel the need to constantly snack on empty calories when she's older (a habit I still struggle with).  She is being exposed to many different, nutrient-dense, and flavorful foods that will hopefully give her the confidence to always try new things - a behavior that could benefit her in numerous ways.

All in all, the purpose of this post is to share how we are feeding our little one and what our experience has been like so far. I hope this can be encouraging to other mothers out there that would like to implement more healthy eating habits into their home. It can be done and I certainly recommend it!


Spaghetti squash, pumpkin, and ground beef - yum!

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